Where Detroit Happens: A Block by Block Tour

On Wednesday, September 20, I drove down to Detroit to participate in day three of CDAD’s Community Development Week. Over the course of the week CEDAM’s partner, Community Development Advocates of Detroit, hosted tours, workshops and other events to promote community development careers, practices and projects. Sessions included: Who’s Got Next? Careers in Community Development; 1967 Placemaking Reception; ERAC/CE Racial Equity Training; Where Detroit Happens Block by Block Tour; Race, Representation and Leadership: Cultivating Leadership for the Future of Community Development and finally, Capacity Building Day.

The Where Detroit Happens Block by Block Tour on day three was led by the Detroit Experience Factory, a nonprofit organization located in Detroit. Kaylin, our tour guide, took us through Detroit by bus and provided history and context as we passed by and through different neighborhoods and historical landmarks.

Our tour also made stops in each of the seven districts in Detroit, where we were met by CDAD members to talk about their organizations and see and learn about their impactful community development projects in Detroit. Let’s take a look at each:

Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (District 1)

Location: 19800 Grand River, Detroit, MI 48223

GRDC supports the five Grandmont Rosedale neighborhoods in northwest Detroit. Supporting retail entrepreneurs is an important focus area, and they seek to not only attract new businesses to the area but support existing ones as well. They initiate capacity building efforts within all of the neighborhoods, seek to preserve and renovate vacant homes and detail and track available properties. A few notable businesses and restaurants to check out: Pages Bookshop, River Bistro and Detroit Vegan Soul.

Focus: Hope (District 2)

Location: 1200 Oakman Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48238

Focus: Hope’s initiatives focus on food, careers and community. They provide low-income seniors with food packages, and seek to address healthy living and basic needs. Additionally, they provide work readiness support, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in multiple career fields, as well as quality education for children, economic opportunities and projects to transform the environment. 

One of Focus: Hope's Community Gardens
One of Focus: Hope’s Community Gardens






Global Detroit (Banglatown, District 3)

Location: 4444 2nd Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Global Detroit’s work focuses on economic development, workforce development and immigrant support. Banglatown is extremely diverse, and Global Detroit works to build bridges across cultural divides in the community. Banglatown includes both Detroit and Hamtramck, and the organization is actively working on ways to engage an equal number of representatives from both cities, as well as have representation across ages and ethnicities. 

Bangla Town, where Global Detroit focuses their work
Bangla Town, where Global Detroit focuses their work









Jefferson East, Inc. (District 4)  

Location: 300 River Place Drive #5350, Detroit, MI 48207

Jefferson East Inc. works to support the east Jefferson corridor and its neighborhoods, Lafayette Park, Rivertown, The Villages and the Marina District. Their economic development team supports small business owners through investment knowledge and real estate services. Jefferson East, Inc. is also an intake center for the City of Detroit’s Home Repair Loan program, which offers 0% interest loans to eligible Detroiters.  

Oakland Avenue Urban Farm (District 5)

Location: 9227 Goodwin St, Detroit, MI 48211

The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm owns land on Oakland and Cameron Street, totaling six acres of land. Their bright yellow and blue house is home to their community prep kitchen and meeting space. Across the street from the home is a giant garden which includes 120 blueberry plants and more. Oakland Avenue employs 13 people, with a mission to give people the skills needed to better themselves. They sell their blueberry jam and eggs at local markets, but they’re also open six days per week. 

The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm has 120 blueberry plants; they make blueberry jam and sell it at local markets
The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm has 120 blueberry plants; they make blueberry jam and sell it at local markets
Oakland Avenue Urban Garden's Master Plan lit up. Their goal is to develop civic spaces such as a youth hostel, library, art space and more in the neighborhood. They also want to preserve an old shoe shine / speakeasy in the neighborhood, where Smokey Robinson once played.
Pictured is Oakland Avenue Urban Garden’s master plan that maps out their goals for the neighborhood moving forward. It includes bringing civic spaces to the community, like art spaces, a library, a youth hostel and more. The plan is to also preserve the shoeshine / speakeasy (where Smokey Robinson once played) in the neighborhood.












DHDC — Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (District 6)

Location: 1211 Trumbull St., Detroit, MI 48216

2017 isn’t over yet, but DHDC has already served 5,620 people this year.

The organization started in Angela Reyes’s living room with a mission reduce gang violence. Today, they operate out of what was once a warehouse and has now transformed into an amazing “office” that includes a large community space, meeting rooms equipped with technology and a childcare facility. In addition to gang violence prevention and intervention, DHDC focuses on STEM careers, financial literacy, housing and community organizing to support and focus on education, immigrants, criminal justice, gentrification and civil rights.

They also offer GED and ESL classes, workforce development, prisoner re-entry support and parenting support. They have both an after school program and a summer program for kids. In the summer the DHDC takes the kids outside of the city for a camping trip; during the school year many of the kids are involved in robotics. 

Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
DHDC's large community space for meetings, activities and events
DHDC’s large community space for meetings, activities and events









Warrendale Community Organization (District 7)

The Warrendale Community Organization is a smaller organization that focuses on their specific neighborhood. Two notable efforts include their relationship with the radio patrol team they’ve brought in, as well as their community garden. The community garden provides free fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to neighborhood residents, with the understanding that everyone helps out what they’re able, whether it be a one-time five minute commitment, or more.

Brussel Sprouts at the Warrendale Community Organization's garden
Brussel Sprouts at the Warrendale Community Organization’s garden
Learning about the history of the Warrendale Community Garden!
Learning about the history of the Warrendale Community Garden!